Tuesday is Election Day for one of the most highly anticipated midterm elections in many years, and Texans seem to be eager to participate. Some 15.7 million people are registered to vote – that’s 1.7 million more than were registered in the previous midterms in 2014. And early voting totals around the state have broken records.
As voters line up to cast their ballots, Texas Standard checked in with our reporting partners at polling stations across the Lone Star State. We begin with Syeda Hasan from our home station, KUT, in the Texas capital city. She reports from the Church of Christ in Hyde Park in north Austin. She says a few people were lined up to vote before the polling place opened at 7 a.m. After a few technical glitches early in the day, Hasan says the voters are spending 35 to 45 minutes in line.
“This is a new voting location this year,” Hasan says, “but the last I heard, there are some folks heading over to troubleshoot the issue with the printer that was going on. So maybe things will speed up as that process moves forward.”
Hasan points out that in Travis County, voters can cast a ballot at any polling location on Election Day. In Bexar and Harris counties, voters must go to a polling station in their home precinct.
In Harris County, 36.6 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots by the end of early voting last Friday – twice the percentage that had done so during 2014 early voting. Houston Public Media’s Laura Isensee observed Election Day voters at Spring Branch Middle School, which is located in the hotly contested 7th Congressional District. Isensee says a poll worker told her that about a dozen people were lined up to vote half an hour before the polls opened.
“We haven’t seen a line out the door, but here is definitely a steady stream of voters coming and going,” Isensee says.
Lauren Terrazas of Texas Public Radio in San Antonio says Election Day voting at the city’s Brook Hollow Library has been slower than she expected. She says early voting at that location was high – around 1,000 each day. But she says the blanket of fog covering San Antonio on Tuesday morning could be keeping early Election Day voters away.
“Maybe some people are waiting around till they get off of work, maybe later this evening,” she says.
Miguel Perez, a producer at Dallas station KERA visited a polling station in the city’s Oak Lawn neighborhood. He says lines haven’t been long during the early morning hours. Perez says voters he spoke with say procrastination kept them from taking advantage of early voting. He says voters are enthusiastic about local races for Congress, as well as tax ratification elections on the local ballot.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.